301: Erik Bosio (& jeff meshel), ‘Galia’

Summber 2013, I was scrounging for material for Vocalocity, the 40-voice Contemporary A Cappella group I was forming on the fly, modeled on the Danish ‘rhythm choir’ Vocal Line. This musical cult I loved so dearly performed covers of pop hits in a rich, musically sophisticated, voices-only context. A vocal symphony of embellished rock covers.

Me, not content to leave alone what’s best left alone, decided to look for some original material. I asked my Italiano cultist buddy Erik Bosio for suggestions.

Erik is a serious guy. He’s also just about the coolest guy I’ve ever met, from his attire all the way into his heart. He has a great, funky a cappella group, Cluster. He’s the #1 studio person for a cappella in Europe. He curates a great a cappella festival, Vocalmente. And he composes choral music, I just didn’t know what kind.

“I’ll write you a piece,” said Erik.

Thud. [That was Jeff fainting.]

“Just send me a poem you like and I’ll write something around it.”

I have a graduate degree in Modern Poetry, so of course I couldn’t find anything suitable. I asked Erik to send me a sketch of a theme, which he did; to which, being brazen and foolhardy, I wrote the lyrics.

If she’s a boat, then I’m a lone wave
Blown by the dark wind
Broken on dark shores.
Galia, Galia

The wind the waves the tide the dark, the sea the wind the waves the tide, the dark the sea the wind the waves
Oh Galia

If I’m a wave, then she’s a shoreline
Watching the tide rise
Waiting to break me.
Galia, Galia

The wind the waves the tide the dark, the sea the wind the waves the tide, the dark the sea the wind the waves
Oh Galia
Galia, Galia

The woman’s name ‘Galia’ means different things in different cultures. In Hebrew, my second language, it means The Wave of God (the water kind, not the ‘Hi!’ kind). Anyway, the name certainly has those connotations for me.

Vocalocity tried their best, but this was a diametrically different style from what they were used to. Even though most of the group members had some background singing Classical Choral music, the group’s vibe was Pop, and ‘Galia’ didn’t fly. I believe Erik tried her with a choir in Italy, but that didn’t get off the ground either.

‘Galia’ lay in a drawer for nine years.

Then this week, what do I find in my mailbox?
A stunning, stunning piece of music that has my name on it. With—are you ready for this?—Erik singing all the male voices, 3 women singing all the female parts.

Let me be very clear—‘Galia’ is Erik’s work. I was perhaps an instigator, a facilitator, and a minor contributor — you can’t even make out some of the words on those long, sub-audible C’s for the basses and those banshee-high B-flats for the sopranos. But they sound okay, so they don’t detract from Erik Bosio’s and Jeff Meshel’s moving composition, ‘Galia’.

When I say I feel my contribution here is minor, it’s not false modesty. It’s unfair that my name get equal billing with Erik. I’ve certainly had other experiences in my various creative endeavors. Some have gotten much less recognition or appreciation than I thought they deserved. And there have even been a couple where I thought the warm reception wasn’t totally warranted. But of course, the default mode of an obsessively creative person, at least in my experience, is disappointment. Never to be satisfied. That’s what stokes that insatiable appetite.

So maybe with ‘Galia’ I won some sort of cosmic lottery for poetic justice, getting so much reward for so little investment.